Reducing food waste at Christmas

A baking tray full of homemade mince pies

Careful planning can help to reduce excess food waste

The food we enjoy over the holiday season can lead to unnecessary waste, from all the packing it comes in, to the leftovers at the end of the meal. The key to reducing this waste is all in the planning. This year may be quite different to other years, but the basic principles remain the same:

Make room

Start eating up things that are taking up space in your fridge, freezer and cupboards so that you will have plenty of room for storage of fresh food and leftovers.

Make it yourself

One way to cut down on the packaging is to have a go at making some of your own festive treats from scratch. Things like Christmas cakes, puddings and mince pies can be made weeks in advance. Some foods like pastries, sauces, and stuffing can be made and frozen. Check out BBC Good Food’s A Freezer Guide to Christmas for recipes.

Make a list

Lists are great for making sure you only buy what you need;

  • Think about the meals you plan to make, or baking you plan to do, and the number of people you’ll be making food for.
  • Write down ingredients you’ll need and amounts. If you’re not sure about quantities, BBC Good Food has a handy Christmas portion planner, and Love Food Hate Waste has a portion calculator.
  • Check your list against what you have in the cupboards, make sure you aren’t duplicating anything you already have.
  • Is there anything that you buy every year that you find yourself throwing away before it’s been eaten? Consider leaving regular “waste offenders” off the list, or go for smaller amounts that will get eaten.

Plan your shop

If you want to reduce the amount of packaging in your food shopping, it may help to shop in a few different places. There’s a huge range of places where you can find unpackaged food:

  • Greengrocers
  • Butchers
  • Bakers
  • Delicatessens
  • Shops/supermarkets with loose/refill sections
  • Fishmongers
  • Cheesemongers
  • Farmers’ markets

Don’t forget to take containers with you e.g. reusable bags, produce bags, jars, bottles etc. If you aren’t sure where accepts containers, check out City to Sea’s Refill App.

Get it delivered

You could try these ideas to reduce packaging waste from food deliveries, and save some shopping time!

  • Returnable packaging – milk has long been available in returnable packaging, and now more places are trying this method such as #WasteNothing Partner Nom Wholefoods
  • Packaging free – Some veg box schemes have packaging-free or plastic-free options.
  • Shop local – lots of Bristol independents are offering delivery this year. Check with your local shops to see what options are available.

The after party

As well as all the planning, what you do with your leftovers after the meal will have a massive impact on how much food you can save.

Freeze them

Portion out your leftovers so you have a ready-made meal for another time. BBC Good Food has some great tips on how to get the most out of your freezer and reduce wastage.

Transform them

Brussel sprout curry anyone? no? Turn your leftovers into a tasty new meal you’ll love, like risottos, soups, stews, curry, hash, or the classic bubble and squeak!

Big Oven has a recipe generator for leftovers and Love Food Hate Waste’s leftovers recipe database has lots of ideas.

Share them

Use the app Olio to share leftovers that you won’t have time to eat with local people.

Recycle them

If you can’t eat, freeze or pass on all your leftovers make sure you put them in your food waste caddie so they can be recycled into fertiliser and energy to power local homes.

Check your collection days

Don’t forget that recycling and general waste collection days change over the festive period. You can find out about changes to normal collections, and the Christmas tree collection day for your street on our website.

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